Oral history interview with Niels Diffrient

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.diffri10
Creators:
Diffrient, Niels
McQuaid, Matilda, 1958-
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Dates:
2010 July 28-August 31
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
55 Pages
Transcript
4 Items
Sound recording: 4 sound files (2 hr., 58 min.)
digital, wav
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
An interview of Niels Diffrient conducted 2010 July 28 and August 31, by Matilda McQuaid, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at Diffrient's home and studio, in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Scope and Contents
Diffrient speaks of growing up in Detroit while spending his summers with his mother's family in Mississippi; the value of growing up on a farm; attending Cass Technical High School in Detroit; realizing that he did not want to work in a factory; learning about crafts at Cranbrook Academy; travelling to Italy on a Fulbright Grant; working with Italian versus American designers; designing office chairs; the state of education in America. Diffrient's wife, Helena Hernmarck, contributes to the discussion of craft, weaving, and textiles. Diffrient also recalls Hans and Florence Knoll, Eero Saarinen, Eliel Saarinen, Chuck Bassett, David Rowland, Henry Dreyfuss, Bob King, Carl Magnusson, Raymond Loewy, Henry Wolf, Elizabeth Whelan, and others.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Niels Diffrient (1928-2013) is an industrial designer in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Matilda McQuaid (1958-) is deputy curatorial director, Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York, New York.

Administration
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

General
General
Originally recorded on 2 memory cards. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 58 min.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Italy -- description and travel Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Michigan -- Detroit -- Description and Travel Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mississippi -- Description and Travel Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Industrial designers -- New York (State) -- New York Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bassett, Chuck Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dreyfuss, Henry, 1904-1972 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hernmarck, Helena, 1941- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
King, Bob Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Knoll, Florence, 1917- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Knoll, Hans Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Loewy, Raymond Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Magnusson, Carl G., 1940- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Rowland, David Lincoln, 1924-2010 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Saarinen, Eero, 1910-1961 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Saarinen, Eliel, 1873-1950 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Whelan, Elizabeth Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wolf, Henry, 1852-1916 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cranbrook Academy of Art Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/